Diving in Curaçao

23 October 2023
Curaçao has diving for everyone. From the shallow tugboat wreck to wild drift dives. With beautiful seascape of corals and sponges, plus sea-going animals like eagle rays and turtles.

Curaçao is an island of 180,000 people. It is 40 miles long and 3 to 5 miles wide, sitting in the Caribbean 40 miles north of Venezuela and 48 miles east of Aruba. It is a windward island of the Netherlands Antilles.

Jeremi beach, Curacao
Jeremi Beach, Curacao, near the Paradise dive site. DepositPhotos

Best time to dive Curaçao

The rainy season is between October and February, but not much rain falls. It's windiest from January to April. The best diving weather-wise is June to November. High season for tourists is December to April, so summer to autumn is also quieter. At full moon in September or October you might catch the coral spawning.

Curaçao's Best Dive Sites

  • East Point
  • Watamula
  • Mushroom Forest
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Paradise

Don't forget to get travel insurance which covers scuba diving.


The Diving

Expect beautiful coral formations and many fish. At the south-east end of the island is a marine protected area. Diving is allowed but no anchoring, buoys have been placed to moor up to.

Fish school, Curacao
Photo: Yvonne & Tilo Kühnast
East Point / Oostpunt

At the east-most tip of the Marine Park. Beautiful with many corals and sponges. You may also see sharks, eagle rays and turtles.

Watamula

At the north west of the island, a great boat dive with much coral and large schools of fish.

Alice in Wonderland

A lovely shore dive but which drops down to 30 m and where you can see turtles and rays as well as smaller macro beasties.

Paradise

A cave! (We love caves.) But also very scenic.

Paradise dive site
Paradise dive site. Yvonne & Tilo Kühnast/DepositPhotos
Tugboat

A shallow dive which is great for beginners but also good for more experienced divers. As well as the wreck there is a lot of marine life at the nearby pier.

Tugboat wreck dive
Tugboat. Yvonne & Tilo Kühnast/DepositPhotos
Rediho City

Navigation was very easy. You simply hugged the wall in one direction and then came back in the other.
Tab Hauser

Pelican Beach

Mushroom Forest

Here I spotted a juvenile spotted drum fish swimming back and forth with what must have been 100 newly hatched fish around it under a small ledge. It was easy to photograph this fish as it ignored me while my camera was no more than 18 inches (45 cm) away. At Mushroom Forest we did swim with a friendly, 2-foot long, turtle.
Tab Hauser

Photo copyright Tab Hauser, //www.tabhauser.com/
Spotted Drum Fish by Tab Hauser

Habitat House Reef

What is nice about the house reef at Habitat is that is beautiful, easy to dive and you can not get lost. Starting from their diving dock there is a rope that goes straight out to 90 feet. Our plan for all shore dives would be to follow the rope to a specific agreed upon depth. We would then go 20 to 25 minutes in one directions raise our depth 10 feet (3 m) or so and go back until we reached the rope.

During the dive we would see plenty of hard coral all along the wall. The wall was so heavy with the different corals that there would be no sandy areas until you got to around 25 feet (7 m). The reef had plenty of fish. The two largest creatures we saw here was a grouper about 2 feet (60 cm) and a green eel that had a head nearly a foot long head (30 cm). It probably was once of the largest eels I have seen in my 17 years of diving. Each dive we did here included a safety stop by swimming in the shallow area near the moored dive boat looking for the elusive frog fish that hung out in a specific area. Unfortunately we did not find it. The shallow area ranged 15 feet on the top of the wall to nine meet in the middle of the flats and offered lots of soft coral an anemones to view.

On our last night our group did a midnight dive. For 2 of the group it was their first night dive. The rope, calm seas, no currents and full moon made it pleasant experience seeing several fish sleeping in holes. One group from upstate New York did a few sunrise dives at 6:15AM to view the day fish waking up and the night fish finding places to sleep.

Water temperature for our spring trip was 80 oF (27 oC) with visibility of about 75 feet (22 m). All mornings had calm seas and the boat rides to the first reefs were 20 to 30 minutes with the second stop 15 minutes closer to the hotel. Our routine for to the first two days was a 2 tank boat dive, followed by lunch, lounging by the pool and then a late afternoon shore dive.

If you are staying at the Habitat Curaçao Hotel you can also dive the house reef at Ocean Encounters further west. Both hotels have reciprocal agreements for their guests.

Tab Hauser


Curaçao Dive Operators

Recommend a dive operator or list your diving company on this page.

Ocean Encounters Curaçao

LionsDive Beach Resort and Sunscape Beach Resort
Whatsapp: LionsDive, Sunscape Beach reservations@oceanencounters.com

Jan Thiel Diving

Livingstone Jan Thiel Beach Resort
Tel: +5999 567 5511
info@janthieldiving.com

Scubaco Diving Adventures

Marie Pampoen
Nijmegenstraat 41 A-B
Willemstad
Curaçao Tel: +5999 523 8581
info@scubacao.com

Blue Bay Dive

Blue Bay Beach
Tel: +5999 888 5450
Blue Bay Beach

Habitat Curaçao Resort

Coral Estate
Rif St. Marie
Curacao
Netherlands Antilles
Tel: (5999) 864 8304
Fax: (5999) 864 8464
E-mail: reservations@habitatcuracaoresort.com

I picked Habitat Curaçao Hotel as our place to stay because it is known as a dive destination. They advertise 24 hour dive freedom. And the dive staff is where Habitat Curaçao shines. Ann-Marie runs the dive operation very well. She is friendly, attentive and after the day is over, happy to chat about diving over a beer.

Two people run the dive boat. They were friendly and their dive briefing was accurate and informative. Each one took turns leading anyone that wanted to follow them below the surface. About half the divers on the boat trip set their own profile and went on their own. Of the 4 boat dives, we followed the leader for about half of some of the dives and finished on our own the second half. One thing all divers were advised on was to surface in one hour as a courtesy to others. There was no speech on coming up with low air or penalties for going too deep. Here, they emphasized knowing the limits on your own. To me this was a refreshing way to dive. I have been to resorts where they want you near the boat with about 1000 psi (70 bar) and on the boat with 500 psi (35 bar). I know of times where one person in a mandatory guided group made the others come up 20 minutes early because they sucked their air too fast.

Tab Hauser


Accommodation

Habitat Curaçao

by Tab Hauser

Habitat Curaçao is about 25 minutes from the airport. The down side to it is that it is a 40 minute ride into town. The upside is that Habitat Curaçaos house reef is beautiful. For an ocean view room request in advance the upstairs rooms as it has a better view and more privacy. Our opinion of the place was mixed. The rooms were nice enough. They did not clean them all the time or that well and the only way I got shampoo was taking it off the cart the next to last day as they said it was not always available. The bathroom was basic but shower pressure was not good when more than a few people took showers in your building (like after a dive boat came in). Also, hot water was also not constant. Each room came with a small refrigerator and 2 burner stove. There is a complimentary shuttle 3 times a day that goes into town with pick ups twice a day. Taxis can be arranged for about $30.

Food at the hotel was run by a different company, but was no better than average. The waitress staff could use a bit of polishing and in some cases seemed lazy. The restaurant and hotels center piece of attraction was its bar. Drinks we found reasonably priced.

There are some newer hotels near the dive spots. If we come back we would probably shop for a different hotel on the same side of the island just for a change. The Habitat Curaçaos is a pleasant enough place but it is all about diving here. As a dive destination I give it 5 stars. As a hotel / resort I give the place 3 stars. If they put a some extra effort into a few things like better showers, cleaner rooms and amenities to name a few things as well as improved the food and service I would have given them another star.


Other things to do

After doing a mid-morning dive on our third day we headed to Eric's ATV Adventures (Quadbiking). To get there we took our van to the east side of the island just past the Sea Aquarium. Here, Eric had six yellow and red Honda ATV's waiting for us. We were showed a map of where we were heading. After going through the safety briefing, we donned helmets and then practiced in the dirt parking lot a few minutes before it was off on our adventure.

Eric picks up the tab for refreshments half-way round. The choice he recommended was a chilled aloe drink that was quite refreshing and quenched our parched throats. We also all tasted an aloe wine that none of us wine lovers in the group would run out and get. If they sold the all natural aloe drink in the States, though, I would not hesitate to buy it.

We also chartered two fishing boats from Eds Fishing

Had we spent a few more days here we would have gone hiking in one of the national parks and perhaps hit a few of the beaches on and off the main roads.

Final Thoughts

Had we spent a few more days here we would have gone hiking in one of the national parks and perhaps hit a few of the beaches on and off the main roads. For information on just about everything you need on the island go to //www.Curacao.com/


Further Reading

Reef Fish Identification: Florida Caribbean Bahamas
by Paul Humann, New World Publications
Excellent for fish identification in the Caribbean.

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